NORTH BY NORTH WEST LOOP
NORTH East Victoria and the Southern Riverina is a great getaway to find a blend of charming towns, a look into history, and the great outdoors
A drive through the western district
THE Southern Riverina region of New South Wales is a great getaway to find a blend of charming towns, a look into history, and the great outdoors.
Whether you are looking to get away as a couple, or take the whole family along, there are lots of places where you can explore, take in the local sites, and have fun.
We were fortunate enough to get a taste of the western edge of what we define as the Southern Riverina last year before the pandemic hit and have already made a list of more places we want to check out next time we are in that part of the region.
To help you plan your trip along the same route, we have named the five main towns along the loop that comprises 325-kilometres that is driven over mainly flat to slightly undulating land.
Those towns are Corowa, Oaklands, Urana, Lockhart, and The Rock.
We have not included a time as you will want to stop along the way and check out each of the towns, plus some interesting and historic spots along the way.
The road routes you will travel on this Albury-Wodonga and return western loop includes B58 (Riverina Highway), Federation Way, Urana-Lockhart Road, Lockhart-The Rock Road, and A41, the Olympic Highway.
All these roads are sealed.
The Riverina Highway between Albury and Corowa passes through the satellite town of Howlong but note that the Riverina Highway turns right a few kilometres east of Corowa.
If you do not want to visit the town that, in the 1890s was the site of several important conferences leading to the federation of the various colonies into the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, watch for the Riverina Highway turnoff (Berrigan/Finley).
At Lowesdale keep travelling north, following the Federation Way signage.
We would suggest you visit Corowa, even if it does mean having to double back, as the town, which sits on the New South Wales bank of the Murray River, has a lot to offer the visitor, whether they be day-trippers or tourists.
Just across the river is the famed Rutherglen wine region, a tourist drive in itself.
The town of Oaklands, which sits on a loop off Federation Way, does not have a lot to offer the tourist, but it is worth the deviation as it has several historic buildings, a great pub, and a general store – plus the obligatory church and community hall, and recreation centre.
Oaklands is a major grain handling centre and boasts a freight-only railway line which runs between the town south to the Victorian city of Benalla.
A branch line from the NSW town of The Rock was extended from Lockhart to Oaklands in 1912 but is now closed at Boree Creek.
Several other industries are also located in or near the town.
The Federation Way continues through flat (read very flat) fertile plains to the town of Urana, a small service centre for wool and wheat graziers between Lockhart and Jerilderie.
Now a sleepy settlement the town has a long history, at one stage boasting two hotels, a post office, a telegraph station, two large stores, a police station, and a church.
While not much is open these days, the town nevertheless has some real treasures, including a huge Soldiers Memorial Hall (pictured above), and a Court House preserved from the late 19th century.
Town attractions include the Urana Aquatic Centre and caravan park, a war memorial swimming pool, and a giant spider and a goanna, artwork which is part of the Urana-Lockhart-Milbrulong silo art trail.
The town also boasts a hospital/retirement village, a chemist, a hotel, café/newsagent, and a public school.
Notable Urana residents include Rugby league great Norm Provan, the Queen’s milliner, Fred Fox, and singer Billy (Bad Habits) Field.
The 46-kilometre easterly route out of Urana to Lockhart follows the Urana-Lockhart Road which, again, is mainly across flat terrain.
The road passes through the farming communities of Cullivel and Brookong.
Lockhart is known as the Verandah Town owing to its many restored buildings with their ornate iron lacework verandahs.
The town is classified by the National Trust and is a great base for exploring the surrounding food and wine regions, as well as offering the visitor and tourist myriad things to see and do.
This well serviced, vibrant town boasts a bustling shopping centre, a museum which houses the Tim Fischer collection, an art gallery, a mural on the town’s water tower (part of the Urana-Lockhart-Milbrulong silo art trail), and a sculpture trail of artwork made from recycled farm machinery.
They are brilliant.
At nearby Galore Hill Scenic Reserve, you can follow a trail to the caves where bushranger ‘Mad Dog’ Morgan hid from troopers.
From Lockhart the loop continues towards The Rock, a town - which you must have guessed – is named after the huge rocky outcrop that stands sentinel above the town and which, from some angles, resembles a lion’s head staring over the countryside.
The Rock is a railway junction town, being where the Boree Creek line branches off the main Sydney to Melbourne line.
The town’s railway station is served by the inter-capital NSW TrainLink XPT service twice a day.
The town centre has several shops and essential services and is the starting point for those keen to walk to the lookout at the top of the rock which is 364-metres above the town.
The Rock is 32-kilometres from Wagga and 98-kilometres from Albury.
The return route to Albury-Wodonga along the Olympic Highway takes you through the wheatbelt service centres of Yerong Creek, Henty (home of the Henty Machinery Field Days and of Headlie Taylor, inventor of the header harvester), Culcairn (home of triple Olympic equestrian gold medallist Andrew Hoy), Gerogery, and Table Top.
The drive to Albury-Wodonga from Table Top is along the Hume Highway.
Allow a full day to drive the loop, but we would suggest staying overnight at one of the towns so that you do not miss seeing all the highlights along the way.